Making Waves At Makerland

by Ron Evans

Team Cylon.js has just returned from a remarkable trip to Makerland in Poland. Billed as a "theme park for makers", the really fun and informative 3 day conference lived up to its name. Held in Warsaw, Poland, at the ultra-modern Copernicus Science Center, Makerland packed in many kinds of robots, 3D printers, drones, submarines, and in our case, popsicle sticks.


We were leading the first major version of our brand new "Think Outside The Bot" workshop, that explores different modalities of human interaction with robotic devices. We used our favorite "minimum viable robot" the Sphero, along with 2 different control surfaces. Over the first 2 afternoons of the conference, we held continuous workshops. It was so popular, that many times we had a line of people waiting for the next opening. Thank you everyone for your patience!


The first workshop activity in the workshop, was each person constructed their own handmade wrist-mounted touch controller. Each workshop participant received a "Makey Button Kit" (inspired by the awesome MakeyMakey) with popsicle sticks, a pipe cleaner, copper foil tape, and high-ohm resistors. Programmed using the "Makey Button" driver, they were able to drive around Spheros by becoming "one with the machine" in a literal sense!


The second workshop activity used Leap Motion controllers to interact with the Spheros. The Leap Motion is the exact opposite end of the spectrum, having no wires at all, as opposed to people "wiring themselves in" to the Makey Button. Participants really enjoyed it, and also were able to think differently about Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) and all this thanks to the power and flexibility of the Cylon.js framework, along with how easy it is to program using JavaScript.


The last day of Makerland was a hackathon, and quite a few teams were using Cylon.js to get things done quickly. One comment we really appreciated from one of the teams, that created a labyrinth game. "We were doing direct Arduino programming, but when we switched to using Cylon.js, we got more done in 40 minutes, then the previous six hours, and even added the Leap Motion controller too." It was really fun to get to help so many people work on their projects, we really enjoyed it.

Thank you so very much to the organizers, speakers, other workshop leaders, sponsors, and most importantly everyone who attended the conference. Hope to see you next year!